Overcoming Gym Anxiety

Welcome to the core. If you’re interested in your health, you’re in the right place, stick around for free, no BS tips and education to help you reach your goals. I’m, Aline, a certified fat loss and nutrition coach by precision nutrition, and I am Shannon, a NASM certified personal trainer. In today’s episode, we’re talking about gym anxiety. You know, that feeling you get when everyone at the gym is looking at you or that everyone is better at this than you, or the simple feeling of not knowing what to do in the gym. I am going to try and help you through that a little bit today, although it’s not a process that can happen overnight, I want to give you the tools to assist you in defeating that anxious feeling you may have.

So, I’m going to talk a little bit about self efficiency first. Self efficiency is defined by experts as the confidence that you feel in your own ability to gain and maintain control over your emotions, your motivation and your behavior. So basically, the ability to stay calm in a situation that you’re uncomfortable in when in a social environment, to be an active listener, and to make eye contact… all that fun stuff! Self efficiency is important because it’s what directly drives our confidence in our abilities, and how we project our confidence onto others. So, if you are lacking that self efficiency, if you’re lacking that calmness, that motivation, your emotions, to make that first step into the gym, then you’re probably not going to go to the gym at all. But move beyond that, you want to focus on your self confidence, developing your self efficiency and know that not one size fits all. One step that you could take, if you’re feeling a lack of self efficiency and you have gym anxiety, is to one day just go drive by the gym, just drive by it. And until you feel comfortable and you have that habit of driving by the gym, then maybe take that second step is to get out of your car once in the gym parking lot. Alright, so now you’ve driven by the gym for maybe a week. You’ve actually gone into the parking lot, and now you are getting out of your car and you’re taking a breath of fresh air. You’re seeing what surrounds you, the people that are coming in and out of the doors. Now, you can get back in your car and drive home. You’re beginning to create that calming effect. And you’re creating that motivation to establish the habit of first going to the gym and then getting out of your car. So that second step might take a little bit longer because you know that the third step is probably to now go into the gym and create that self confidence. Maybe you take a step inside of the gym and then you immediately walk out and you get back into your car and now you’re driving home. So whether you take a step in and you leave, or you physically walk into the gym fully and you see a trainer behind the desk, ask them some questions. We as trainers, or as workers in a gym setting, are professionally trained to answer any of the questions that you may have. If you come in and you don’t have anything to say, that person should be trained to then open up the conversation as to what you are looking for. We don’t expect everyone to walk in the doors and know exactly what they’re doing and why they’re even there. So we love questions. We love helping you. A few things to outline once you’ve gathered that habit of driving to the gym, getting out of the car, walking, and now taking a step into the gym, is who do you want to be now that you’re in the gym? What goals do you have? And if you need help with goals setting, short and long term, go back to episode number one, we created a list of goals that could be helpful to you. Now next, what are the opportunities in this gym setting that will help you become a better person, to help you achieve your goals, to help you become that person that you are looking to become? What are the barriers that you’re going to try and overcome by going to the gym? You’ve created the habit of driving there, but what are potential barriers? Is weather a barrier? Do you have kids? Is that a barrier within their schedules? Sickness? We’ve all been a part of this thing called a pandemic the last two years… that’s a barrier!
What is the framework of you wanting to go into the gym? What does this all look like for you? You need to observe your surroundings, and maybe even document it. Then you can go back to your goals, focus on a little bit of self-reflection and chat with yourself on your self efficiency. The next thing that I want to cover on this one is: What do you do at the gym!? I would say the first question that we get most often when someone is anxious about coming into the gym, and lacks that self efficiency or confidence is… well, I don’t know what to do! And again, it goes back to that warm body behind the desk, that trainer, that worker at the gym, they should be professionally trained to show you exactly what to do at the gym, regardless of your age, your sex, your physical activity level, your current and past injuries, your lifestyle. We take all of that into consideration and we help create a plan, whether it’s a plan to get you going on the treadmill, that first five pound dumbbell that you get to lift, or you’ve been an avid outdoor enthusiast, and now you need to go to the gym because you live in Northern Minnesota and it’s almost May, and it’s still only 30 degrees outside! Overall, I get it. Gym anxiety is a real thing. I have dentist anxiety, so I like to compare the two. Sometimes it’s hard for me to relate to someone that feels gym anxiety. But then I have the example of anxiety when I go to the dentist, or specifically the orthodontist, as I engaged in that setting for a couple years in my adulthood. But people are there to help you. People are there to guide you. You just need to create that habit to get there, and establish the routine of making your first steps into the gym. And if you’re not a gym goer, good for you! If you want to workout from home, that’s so totally awesome! The Core has some tools for you to assist your at-home workout programs. And you know what? I create two different programs for you guys to assist if you are at home or if you are at the gym and can utilize dumbbells and resistance bands. So whatever you prefer, The Core is here to help guide you and to get you going, then to continue your progression throughout your fitness journey.

We just want to really congratulate you. If this is something that’s hard for you and you are making the effort to go to the gym, with all these steps that Shannon shared, keep working through it. Give yourself the grace to work through it and know that you’re trying your best. It can be really hard. It can be really daunting. Gyms are big spaces. I remember back to my personal experiences when I was rock bottom in my health. It was, yes, the number on the scale was so much higher than it is now, but that was the smallest part of what I was going through in my health. I was really rock bottom. I remember walking into the gym and feeling so self-conscious and just feeling like the whole thing was so intimidating. And then looking at some of these people who, in my eyes, were in perfect shape. These people that in my eyes, they looked so amazing. And I just felt so intimidated. But here’s the truth, for some reason, we don’t see so much is that most of these people that are there, they’re doing their thing, they’re doing their workout. They were once beginners as well. They started somewhere. They didn’t suddenly from one day to the next wake up and look however they look at the gym; it takes effort! The same effort that you’re taking to start. It takes effort for most people to be comfortable in a gym environment. And of course, there are some creeps out there, but most people are kind people. These are people who are happy to share their journey. These are people that are steps ahead of you and they are here to help and are happy to support you. A guideline I’ve heard a lot, and I would like to second, is that if someone has headphones on, don’t try to talk to them. If someone’s jamming to their own music, you don’t want to randomly be approaching those people at the gym. 99% of the people at the gym don’t care what you’re doing. They don’t care how much you’re lifting. And if a random person at the gym cares, that’s on them, not on you. The people that care and that are supposed to care are the trainers that are at the gym that are going to keep an eye out for you, that are going to support you in your journey. The rest, honestly, nobody cares how much you can press!

It’s so funny that you say that! There’s definitely a gym etiquette. That’s a real thing, and in reality it’s truthfully harsh, but no one cares! Know that when you have a wall of nothing but mirrors, and you’re thinking, oh, I don’t like looking at myself because I feel like everybody else is looking at me. No! If someone is standing in front of the mirror, they are looking at themselves. They could care less about you, what’s going on around them, what you look like, what you’re doing or not doing. I would say the only thing that someone might care about is if you’re just popping a squat on a piece of equipment. Know that you have to move on after you’re done and not hold up the equipment. Other than that, no one cares. No one else is looking at you. Everyone is more concerned about themselves. And as they should be in a gym setting.

And again, like Shannon mentioned, we have at The Core, every month Shannon puts out a program. You can do it from home with minimal equipment. Or if you want to take it to the gym, you can do that as well with all the equipment that they have available for you.

And I program different intensity levels, too. So, if you’re just beginning or maybe you’ve just now reached the point where you’re exercising three times a week, there’s a program for you. If you’re working out three plus days a week, there’s a program for you, too. And if you need one where you’re thinking, I’m not quite there, Shannon, what can I do to modify this particular exercise? That is why we are here. And we absolutely love what we do. I mean, such high job satisfaction with what we do. So we’re here to help. We’re here to guide. And we are proud of you for taking yourself to the gym or to your basement or out to the streets for a walk. Wherever you are, move your body.

Movement is exercise and we are happy you guys are here. Thank you for joining us for this episode. We would greatly appreciate it if you left to review wherever you listen to this podcast, remember that you can join our email list at practicethecore.com. for more tips on how to improve your health. We are Shannon and Aline, and this is The Core.

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